Termination of Demerara River bridge contract negotiations raises questions- AFC

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See the following statement issued today, Friday, February 11 by the Alliance for Change (AFC):

THE TERMINATION OF THE DEMERARA BRIDGE CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS 

Georgetown, Guyana, February 10, 2022:  The Alliance for Change (AFC) says the decision of the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Government to terminate contract discussions with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCECL) raises serious issues of due process, contract evaluation and probity by the administration.

AFC General Secretary and former Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson says that the announcement on Tuesday that the government had terminated talks with the Chinese contractor and moved to the next bidder on the replacement of the Demerara Bridge was suspicious and requires a proper, detailed and coherent explanation.

In a statement today, Mr. Patterson said the initial reason given by Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, that the financing costs were too high is rubbished by their project evaluation process, which the cabinet received and granted in a “no-objection” approval to the Ministry of Public Works to engage CSCECL from November 2021 based on a Design-Build-Finance (DBF) model.

“For the country to believe the Vice President now raises questions as to why in November he clearly stated that the financial terms and conditions would be no less favourable than those submitted in the preferred bidder’s price proposal and that the construction cost of US$256.6 million was the lowest among all bidders”, Mr. Patterson said.

Therefore, he said it was not credible for the sudden termination of negotiations because the financing costs were too high, and he further called on the engineering and financial advisers to speak up on this questionable decision.

Mr. Patterson said the announcement’s proximity to corruption revelations in the recent Vice Media Group interview is also curious and of great concern to the Alliance for Change.

It is also no secret there is great suspicion that one of the contracts referenced by the interviewer is the proposed contract with CSCECL, and there is now a strong belief that the two events signal that there was more to the” mortar than the pestle”.

Mr. Patterson said openness and transparency were the only solutions to this conundrum facing the Guyanese, who believe the government’s secrecy posture fuels speculation about the lack of probity within the PPP Administration. He said it was essential to recall that this project was shovel-ready during the APNU+AFC government, but the new PPP government chose to discard all the work and start all over again.

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